Food Security: NGOs Call For Improved Budgetary Allocation To Agriculture

The Participation Initiative for Behavioral Change in Development (PIBCID) in partnership with ActionAid, has called on relevant stakeholders in the agricultural sector to address the gaps in previous agricultural budget allocations for a better and improved 2022 budget in Kogi State.

The Executive Director of PIBCID, Halima Sadiq, gave the advice at the ”Stakeholders’ Consultative Meeting on Kogi State 2022 Agriculture Budget” on Wednesday in Lokoja.

She noted that the meeting was necessary to facilitate conversation among stakeholders regarding the agricultural budget for 2022.

According to her, there was a need to strengthen citizens’ participation towards using food for wealth creation and create more opportunities for women in the budget.

She added that the 6.6 per cent allocation for agriculture in Kogi, was grossly inadequate and contradicted the 10 per cent Maputo declaration of 2003.

Sadiq noted that the programme was also aimed at strengthening citizens’ participation towards making the 2022 agricultural budget responsive toward food security and wealth creation.

In his presentation on critical look at the 2021 Agricultural Budget and Way Forward on 2022 Agriculture Budget, Mr. Idris Ozovehe, the Chairperson, Kogi NGOs Network (KONGONET), said the latest UN World Food Programmes estimates, 957 million people across 93 countries of the world do not have enough to eat.

”A total of 239 million people are in dare need of life-saving humanitarian action and protection this year alone. COVID-19 has struck at a time when hunger and undernourishment keeps rising.

“Over the years, Kogi State has been under budgeting for the sector. This is despite its huge advantage in terms of its large population of over 4 million and a 70 per cent farming sub group, coupled with its location at the confluence of the Rivers Niger and Benue.

”With an approved allocation of N7, 689,925,925.00 to the Agriculture sector, Kogi State in 2021, plans to spend N1,687.74k on each person, which was slightly above the 2020 allocation”, he said.

He stressed that the 2021 allocation was still grossly inadequate considering the current economic trend and depreciation in the value of the naira.

Ozovehe, a member of Scaling Up Public Investment Agriculture, (SUPIA), urged the government to focus more attention on women and youth in agriculture, agriculture finance and credit, farm input and extension services.

He added that labour-saving technologies had not been reflecting on the budget and climate-resilient sustainable agriculture (CRSA).

He, therefore, called for a sustainable 2022 budget by reviewing the existing policies and framework in agriculture, increased funding to meet the 10 per cent Maputo Declaration, focus resources to achieve value for money and among others.

On her part, the National Auditor and State Coordinator Small Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria, (SWOFON), Hajiya Safiya Yahaya, said the consultative meeting had started in 2012, but expressed disappointment over the poor implementation of the agricultural budget in Kogi.

A representative from the Ministry of Budget and Planning, Mr Saeed Abdulllahi, noted that the budget approved was based on what was obtainable looking at the peculiar nature of the state, adding that the government was making efforts in improving its budget provisions.

The Chairman of the Budget Committee in the state, Mr Matthias Okpanachi, thanked all relevant agencies for making the stakeholders meeting a reality, noting that the struggle for a better agricultural sector had long started since 2012.

He added that relevant areas on the budget pertaining to Women, Youth and grassroots should be taken seriously, saying they were more involved in farming and in the sustainability of food provision for the state and country at large.

The Acting Director Planning Research and Statistic, Kogi Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Abraham Ahmed, said the paucity of funds to the ministry, had hindered the implementation of most of its plans in the state towards improved agriculture and food security.

Shadow Agricultural Budget for 2022  was jointly produced by the stakeholders at the meeting and a communique was issued at the end of the programme.

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